Novelist, interrupted by poetry

Award-winning poet Don Coles, who taught humanities at York more than 20 years ago, has come full circle, Ray Conlogue wrote in The Globe and Mail March 11. “It is surprising to learn that the author of Doctor Bloom’s Story, heralded by its publishers and admiring reviewers as a ‘first novel’, is 76 years old,” said Conlogue. “But Don Coles, as readers of poetry know, is not a literary novice. He has published 10 books of poetry and won a Governor-General’s Award. So the real question is: Why did a celebrated poet decide so very late in life that it was time to write a novel? ‘Well, I like what Henry James said, that a novel is a loose, baggy monster,’ says Coles, who at a cardigan-clad Ichabod Crane-ish 6-foot-4 is a bit of a baggy monster himself.  ‘And I found it exhilarating, going to my work room to get back to it each day. And how I didn’t have to start over again and again, the way you do with a poem.’ ”

In his 20s, Coles wrote two “dreadful novels,” one of which was turned down by 35 publishers. In the new, published novel, he writes about a doctor who takes a creative writing course with a diverse group of students. “This little world owes a debt to Coles’s long-time teaching of literature at York University,” wrote Conlogue.

Unveiling the hijab’s significance

The practice of wearing hijab is not a uniquely Islamic one and has a long history in Judeo-Christian tradition, with several references to the practice in both the Old and New Testaments, wrote Basharat Tayyab in an opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator March 11. In recent religious discourse, hijab has taken on a specifically Islamic significance as it has increasingly become a symbol of Islamization in the post 9/11 socio-political scenario, she remarked. Muslim women carry with them their sacred private space into the public sphere by use of hijab. They place themselves in society as people and free themselves from the social constraints of femininity. Once people cease to be distracted by women’s physical appearance, they can begin to hear their views and recognize the inner person, wrote Tayyab, who has taught philosophy at York.

On air

  • Rhonda Lenton, dean of York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, discussed the York University and Georgian College joint Post-RN degree program in nursing, on “VR Land News” (CKVR-TV), Barrie, March 10.
  • Martha Rogers, Atkinson’s associate dean, also discussed the program, which also involves Grey Bruce Health Services, on “News Now” (CKNX-TV), Wingham, March 10.
  • Thomas W. Gallant, Hellenic Heritage Professor in Modern Greek History at York, discussed how York University has been chosen to be the premier centre of Hellenic studies in Ontario, on Rogers Television’s “OMNI Culture” March 9.